Positive training, short for “positive reinforcement” training, involves using rewards – not just food, but anything that motivates your pet – to modify behavior.
Rewards aren’t only useful for teaching your pet new tricks. You can also use positive reinforcement instead of punishment to stop bad behaviors in cats, dogs and other pets.
Punishment has been shown in recent behavioral research studies to be less effective in the long-term modification of bad behaviors, and leads to fear and aggression. There’s always a better way!
Teaching Your Pet What to Do Instead
If you can’t hit, push, yell or otherwise punish your pet, how will you prevent them from doing “whatever they want?”
It’s simple. Teach your pets what to do instead. Even cats, thought by many to be un-trainable, respond very well to positive reinforcement.
Reducing Accidents in the House
Cats are usually easy to house-train. Just leave out a litter-box, and instinct will drive them to use it. When cats refuse to use a litter-box, it can be because you need additional boxes, especially in a multi-cat household. You may need to try a different type. Some cats prefer the privacy of a covered box, while some will only use it if it is uncovered.
Dogs can take months to house-train. By providing consistent meals, you can predict when they have to relieve themselves. Some dogs do not realize they need to communicate with you to let you know they have to go out. Potty bells can be a huge help.
Punishing your pets for having accidents rarely works. They can become afraid to relieve themselves in front of you, and may choose to pee and poop in closets and behind furniture to avoid being caught. Accidents are a sign that you need to go back to basics. Use an enzyme-based cleaner to remove the scent completely and discourage accidents in the same spot.
Getting Your Pet off Your Furniture
Whether your cat is walking across your kitchen counter, or your dog is shedding all over your couch, the “off!” command is a very effective way to get your pet onto the floor.
Just say “off” clearly enough for your pet to hear you, but not loudly enough to scare them. Toss a treat onto the floor as you say “off” the first few times you introduce the command. Then, praise your pet once they successfully get off.
Yelling at your pet or pushing them may scare them off the furniture, but it’s totally unnecessary. Give your pet lots of attention once they settle into a more appropriate spot.
If you’re consistent about calling your pet away from the furniture and telling them “off” when they are in an inappropriate spot, you can break the habit. Be sure to provide plenty of comfortable spots your pet is allowed to access.
Are your pets chewing and clawing you out of house and home? The easiest way to stop destruction is through management.
You can crate your dog when you are out, or use baby gates to confine him to a safe room. You should always keep valuable, tempting items out of reach.
Cats’ claws can be trimmed or capped to prevent damage to your furniture. You can add foil, double-sided tape or citrus sprays to make furniture less attractive for scratching. Place scratching posts near objects your cat likes to destroy.
If you catch your pet ruining something, gently remove them or lure them away, then offer a more appropriate toy for them to play with.
Ready Pet Go Supports Positive Training
The pet sitters at Ready Pet Go never use punishment or fear-based techniques on pets – that’s our policy. We are happy to stay consistent with positive training your pet has received, and can recommend local pet trainers and behaviorists if you need help with problem behaviors.